Magazine

The Amateur Parker

Times Gone By, Trends in the Works

Melissa Bean Sterzick

A new year is a lovely thing. A fresh calendar is so refreshing after a December spent perfecting at least three of the Seven Deadly Sins.

There have been times in my life when I found the new year a bit depressing. It’s easily bogged down by the daunting task of evaluating last year’s successes and failures, and setting new year’s resolutions accordingly. And then there’s that horrible “Auld Lang Syne” song to put you over the edge.

I haven’t made any resolutions this year, and I’m pleased by my disinterest. Last year, I went against a long-time policy against the practice and made a few. Only one of them stuck, but it was the only one I really meant to keep, and I was pleased by my dedication. During the first week of 2013, I vowed I would learn to relax. After a year of practicing yoga, avoiding caffeine and going to bed early, I still can’t meditate, but I can think about it without laughing. I call that improvement.

I was thinking about what resolutions the parking industry might set for this year, so I used Google to research parking trends. (The Internet is the ultimate bibliography.)

I’m not a trendy girl by any means. I didn’t know that the term “throw shade” is Twitter for “criticize”; I didn’t buy skinny jeans until last year – but I will leave the fashion commentary to more stylish writers; and I don’t use Facebook to discuss how I feel about health care reform. I try to keep up, but my goal is to fly under the radar in all regions, except my top three: family, home, work.

Parking trends are easy targets for the resolute. I park all day long, and as member of the parking public, I chose my three favorite.



Sustainability

The word “sustainability” has begun to take on the emptiness of a term used too often to mean too many things – or nothing at all. I try not to say it because I feel like a blowhard when I do.

I don’t spend my time telling other people to be more environmentally aware; I just try to do my best, in my life and in my home, to respect the planet and its resources. I don’t have Birkenstocks or hairy armpits, and it’s not 1960, so anybody who thinks the previous statement is just a nod to the hippie era needs to take step forward into the 21st century.

People who care about Mother Earth don’t call it that anymore, but they are increasing in numbers, and any industry would be wise to recognize this is not a passing phase.

It would be great if the parking industry could embrace this sustainability trend in a way that was truly meaningful, not just a gimmick to attract hipsters. I’m no parking consultant, so I can’t say which exact practices are sustainable when it comes to the industry. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but the guide I use in my quest to save the Earth for my great grandchildren is: Consume less, waste less.



ePayment

Anything worth having anymore starts with an “I” or an “E,” so ePayment is approaching superstar status. My parents paid cash for most everything, and I grew up thinking that was normal and sensible; but in my lifetime, the tide has turned.

The ATM card is king and the credit card an impatient heir. I can’t be counted on to have cash in my purse ever, and find it annoying when I have to go get some from the bank, or frequent an establishment that won’t take anything else.

Making payment easier for parkers is a fantastic trend. Paying by cellphone, using a credit card at a meter, and parking by GPS are all terrific ideas in my book. People really like it when parking is a nonevent.



Park and walk

This is one I made up. In communities with a downtown area, parking operators could focus on getting people to park and then walk. I’ve read (on the Internet, again) that a cultural shift is bringing people back into urban areas, because they would rather walk or bike to school or work or the market.

Not every city can be reconfigured for this dynamic, but parking lots can be set up as starting points for those who wish to stroll. No, parkers don’t need any special incentive, but marketing is not about incentive; it’s about perception.

They might park and walk without your input, but if you call yourself “The Hub,” or offer bikes to rent or a nice map of downtown hotspots, you might be a “destination” parking spot, not a default.



I’m going to continue my quest for relaxation this year, even though calling it a “quest” quadruples the pressure quotient. Maybe I’ll call it a “journey.” That sounds more conducive to inner peace, and yet another nod to the hippie movement.

Other than that, if pressed to make any kind of resolution, I think I might agree to stop quoting the Internet every time I want to share my opinion.



Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article Abstract from January, 2014




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